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Nuala Curley: Methods used to measure the impact and effectiveness of the mathematics support provided by the UCD Mathematics Support Centre.
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Nuala Curley: Methods used to measure the impact and effectiveness of the mathematics support provided by the UCD Mathematics Support Centre.


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  • 1. Methods used to measure the impact and effectiveness of the mathematics support provided by the UCD Mathematics Support Centre.
  • 2. Origins MSC
    • In 2003 the Department of Mathematics secured HEA funding. Opened Feb 04 and a manager was appointed.
    • UCD has funded MSC since 2007
  • 3. Aims of the MSC The Mathematics Support Centre (MSC) in UCD aims :
    • • To provide Mathematics support for students in a friendly, relaxed and informal atmosphere.
    • • To enable students to build confidence in their own mathematical ability.
    • • To provide targeted mathematics support for Access and Level One students
    • • To increase the effectiveness of the MSC by evaluating the MSC’s activities and by liaising with other maths support groups
  • 4. Services provided
    • Dedicated drop-in centre staffed by friendly and supportive tutors.
    • • One-to-one tuition or group-tuition as required.
    • • Supervised study.
    • • Hot Topic tutorials.
    • • Relevant textbooks and handouts.
    • • Web-based learning materials.
    • • Directed link on Blackboard to the MSC.
    • • Practise sheets covering problem areas for Access and Level One students.
  • 5. Opening Hours
    • 22 hours per week. Does not open on Fridays
  • 6.  
  • 7. Outcomes sought
    • UCD was supporting the MSC for the first time. If the MSC was to be secure we needed to ensure that the funding was on-going so it was necessary to
    • Increase the numbers attending
    • Demonstrate a more efficient use of Budget
    • Give students the opportunity to evaluate the work of the MSC and give feedback for further development
    • Increase the profile of the MSC across the university.
  • 8. Increasing numbers
    • Addressed Level One students
    • Altered opening hours to allow students with busy schedules to attend
    • Upgraded the website
    • Promoted the MSC by Posters and website
    • Received support from lecturers who recommended to their students to attend the MSC
    • Organised Hot Topic Sessions
  • 9. Which methods were affective
  • 10. How were the numbers measured?
    • Each student filled out a form giving the following information
    • Name
    • Date
    • Time in time out
    • Topic covered and
    • Module being studied
  • 11. Weekly Attendance
  • 12. Numbers attending over 4 years
  • 13. Budget Planning
    • Finances were carefully planned and monitored using spreadsheeets
    • Since student attendance could be computerised, tutoring hours were adjusted to make more effective use of budget.
    • Where a demand was indicated special Hot Topics were organised.
    • Budget Sheets were updated monthly and any shortfalls adjusted
  • 14. Budget
    • More effective use of budget was demonstrated by reduced costs per hour
  • 15. Student Evaluation
    • Evaluation forms were only filled by those who had attended
    • Emailed out to students or available in the MSC
    • Return Rate was 29%
    • Additional information was offered by 95% of respondents
  • 16. Why respondents first decided to use the MSC
  • 17. Students Opinions
    • Respondents were asked for their opinions on various aspects of the MSC using a five point Likert item.
  • 18. Students opinions of the MSC
    • Did the MSC
    • Have a welcoming atmosphere?
    • Have suitable opening hours?
    • Encourage students to work with other students in their class?
    • Provide a relaxed place to study?
  • 19. The MSC has a welcoming atmosphere
    • 99% of students agreed with this statement
    • “ Very welcoming atmosphere. Tutors who are patient and let you work at your own pace ”
  • 20. The MSC encourages teamwork
  • 21. Relaxed place to study
    • 88% stated that they found the MSC a relaxed place to study.
    • “ I thought it was a very positive experience.Staff were very approachable with a relaxed atmosphere to learn and ask questions in ”
  • 22. Suitable opening hours
  • 23. Students opinions of the MSC Staff
    • Are they friendly and approachable?
    • Have they good teaching abilities?
    • Have they a good knowledge of mathematics?
    • Do they help you to cope better?
    • Do they motivate you to study?
  • 24. Staff are friendly and approachable
    • 99% agreed with this.
    • “ It has helped me a lot in my first year of maths. They are very friendly and welcoming making it easier to come down and ask for help ”
  • 25. The staff have good teaching abilities
    • 100% agreed with this.
    • “ Great really easy to understand difficult concepts ”
    • 97% agreed that staff have a good knowledge of maths.
  • 26. The staff help you to cope better
  • 27. Quote from one student among many
    • “ To put it simply I would have failed both maths modules I have taken this year. It has put my mind at ease and I have already got a “B” in my first semester maths, I would have failed if not for the MSC. Thank you so much.”
  • 28. The MSC staff motivate you to study
  • 29. Motivated me to study
    • “ Very helpful and made me realise I need to start studying maths, particularly where I am weak ”
  • 30. Passed Module
    • 92% pass rate
  • 31. To increase the profile of the MSC
    • Orientation: Mature students, Foreign students, New Era students, Disability,Commerce, Science mentoring group,Medicine, Agricultural students
    • Personal Contact with lecturers in various Programmes throughout UCD
    • Annual Report widely distributed
    • Student Advisors
    • Vice Presidents and heads of departments
    • Career Guidance Counsellors
  • 32. Conclusions
    • Attendance recorded and more than doubled.
    • MSC was kept within budget and increased efficiency demonstrated
    • The quality of Service was formally evaluated with very positive results
    • Students show a very high level of satisfaction with services provided
    • Profile of the MSC has been increased across the college